CornerHouse was started 30 years ago to address the inconsistent and traumatizing way that children alleging abuse were being treated by the investigation and criminal justice processes. Since then, CornerHouse has become a staple of child abuse cases with investigators and prosecutors. You can even find CornerHouse mentioned in law school textbooks—that is how integrated we have become in the investigation process.
When Governor Dayton implemented the child protection task force in 2012, there were a litany of recommendations for improving the child protection system, many aimed at providing additional supports for children after a disclosure of abuse. In the context of reevaluating efforts to address child abuse, CornerHouse recognized a significant gap in our programming: supporting healing for children after a disclosure of abuse. This is coupled with the growing understanding of the effects of trauma for children and family systems after a disclosure of abuse. With these developments, CornerHouse began to invest time, staff, and resources to expanding our Family Services program.
Five years ago, our Family Services program consisted of one part-time staff person; in 2019, it consists of a Family Services Director, two Case Managers, and three Therapists. Our staff supports children and families during and immediately after the forensic interview by providing crisis assessments, walking a caregiver through what will happen during the interview, providing information and referrals for emergency housing, medical appointments, and providing recommendation and referrals for any ongoing therapeutic services.
In the past year, Family Services has significantly increased our therapeutic services as we’ve seen an outpouring of demand from families who had a forensic interview at CornerHouse and want to continue coming here because they trust us and appreciate our expertise in working with child abuse cases. We currently offer a monthly drop-in support group for caregivers who have children who have experienced abuse, an intensive 10-week group therapy course for children and caregivers, and Child-Centered Play Therapy. We were recently able to create a second room for play therapy which allows us to see siblings concurrently so caregivers don’t have to block off 4 hours to have their children attend back-to-back appointments.
Even as we have expanded services, our Family Services program still experiences waiting lists for our services that can stretch to 40+ children at any given time. This clearly illustrates the value of our programming and the lack of therapy specializing in child abuse in the Twin Cities. As CornerHouse enters its next phase of growth, we intend to continue investing in our Family Services program to focus on putting children and families on the path towards healing.